Do Corticosteroid Injections During Total Knee Replacement Improve Early Clinical Results?


Prior to surgery, a pharmacist will randomly assign participating patients to one of two groups. One group will get an injection in the knee during surgery that contains medications to limit pain and an antibiotic. A second group will get an injection in the knee during surgery that contains the same pain medications and antibiotic along with a corticosteroid to control inflammation. Corticosteroids are anti-inflammatory medications, not to be confused with muscle-building anabolic steroids you may have heard about in the news. Each patient will have an equal chance of being in either of the two groups. This study will test the safety and efficacy of methylprednisolone acetate in the treatment of pain and inflammation following total knee replacement.

Full Title of Study: “Peri-articular Injections Containing a Corticosteroid During Total Knee Arthroplasty”

Study Type

  • Study Type: Interventional
  • Study Design
    • Allocation: Randomized
    • Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment
    • Primary Purpose: Supportive Care
    • Masking: Triple (Participant, Investigator, Outcomes Assessor)
  • Study Primary Completion Date: February 2008

Detailed Description

Information collected during your office visits: The patient will be asked for a brief medical history so that we may determine if the patient can participate in the study. A member of our research team will ask the patient a series of questions about his/her knee. The patient will be asked to answer this series of questions a total of 4 times over the course of 1 year. Also, we will record how well the patient can bend and straighten your knee at these 4 office visits. We will have the patient rate the pain in his/her knee and ask the patient if he/she is satisfied with the surgery. If the patients have any complications, those will also be recorded. The patient will also have X-rays taken of the knee at the postoperative follow-up visits. This is the normal routine following total knee replacement. The X-rays will be read by the surgeon to help determine the success of the surgery. Injection during total knee replacement surgery: All patients will receive an injection containing bupivicaine HCl, morphine, epinephrine, clonidine, cefuroxime, and normal saline that will be placed directly into the knee during surgery. In addition, approximately half of the patients in the study will also receive methylprednisolone acetate as part of the injection. Information being collected during your hospital stay: During the hospital stay, information will be gathered for this study. A physical therapist will measure how well the patient can bend and straighten the knee. The amount of pain medication that was taken at the hospital will be recorded, and the number of days spent in the hospital will also be recorded.


  • Drug: methylprednisolone acetate
    • Same medications and doses as the active comparator, but with the addition of 40 mg of methylprednisolone acetate
  • Drug: active comparator
    • bupivacaine HCl 80 mg, morphine 4 mg, epinephrine 300 micrograms, clonidine 100 micrograms, cefuroxime 750 mg, and normal saline

Arms, Groups and Cohorts

  • Active Comparator: Control
    • Patients in the active comparator group will receive intraoperative injections containing bupivacaine HCl, morphine, epinephrine, clonidine, cefuroxime, and normal saline, as per the surgeon’s standard of care.
  • Experimental: Corticosteroid
    • Patients in the Corticosteroid group will have the same medications as the Control Group with the addition of a corticosteroid (methylprednisolone acetate)

Clinical Trial Outcome Measures

Primary Measures

  • Length of Hospital Stay
    • Time Frame: days after surgery
  • Knee Range of Motion
    • Time Frame: 3 months
  • Knee Society Scores
    • Time Frame: 3 months postoperative
    • The Knee Society Score is on a scale of 0 to 100, with 0 being the worst possible score, and 100 being the best possible score. The Knee Society Score takes into account subjective patient reports of pain and functional ability as well as clinical measures of passive knee range of motion.
  • Amount of Pain Medication Taken Per Day
    • Time Frame: Average of 3 days after surgery
  • Patient Satisfaction
    • Time Frame: 6 weeks, 3 months, and 1 year postoperative
  • Complications, Such as Infections, Hospital Readmissions, Manipulations Under Anesthesia, Etc.
    • Time Frame: any point during the first postoperative year

Participating in This Clinical Trial

Inclusion Criteria

  • Between ages of 18 and 95 – Has elected to undergo total knee replacement Exclusion Criteria:

  • Allergy to any of the medications used in the protocol – History of kidney disease – Rheumatoid arthritis – Any systemic conditions associated with chronic pain – History of deep knee sepsis in the affected extremity – Unable to understand the questions used to obtain the Knee Society Score – Minors and prisoners will be excluded from the study

Gender Eligibility: All

Minimum Age: 18 Years

Maximum Age: 95 Years

Are Healthy Volunteers Accepted: No

Investigator Details

  • Lead Sponsor
    • New Lexington Clinic
  • Collaborator
    • St. Joseph’s Health Care London
  • Provider of Information About this Clinical Study
    • Sponsor
  • Overall Official(s)
    • Christian P Christensen, MD, Principal Investigator, New Lexington Clinic


Lombardi AV Jr, Berend KR, Mallory TH, Dodds KL, Adams JB. Soft tissue and intra-articular injection of bupivacaine, epinephrine, and morphine has a beneficial effect after total knee arthroplasty. Clin Orthop Relat Res. 2004 Nov;(428):125-30.

Parvataneni HK, Ranawat AS, Ranawat CS. The use of local periarticular injections in the management of postoperative pain after total hip and knee replacement: a multimodal approach. Instr Course Lect. 2007;56:125-31.

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